5 tips on how to create amazing car video content

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5 tips on how to create amazing car video content

category: Automotive

We produce quite a lot of car video content at RD Content, and over the years we've learned a trick or two. Below are our 5 tips on how to make your next piece of car content amazing:

Do your homework!

When working with cars location is crucial, both aesthetically and practically.

On the aesthetics, we can't tell you what is right for your piece, but if you're looking for beautiful mountains, towering skyscrapers or a stunning beach backdrop I can give you a few of our tips for how we go about finding them.

  • Google Streetview - it may sound low-fi but Google Streetview is a fantastic place to start when scouting a location for car shoots. It's cheap, quick, and can help you turn a long list into a short list quickly!
  • Location scouts - location companies such as The Collective and Shoot Factory are great for having a huge index of locations to work with. The good location scouts will even help you sort out permissions with local councils or private owners. Be warned though, these solutions can be expensive, and often times you're left to do the vast majority of the logistical work yourself anyway.
  • Recce recce recce - it's remarkable how often shoots are conducted without a recce. In the case of a piece of content for a car it will not only lead to poor quality content but could also endanger the crew and the car. When building a budget, a recce should be non-negotiable.

Make sure you're working legally

There are a number of practical considerations when shooting cars that will make or break your production.

Do you have permission? Filming on the road, with cameras hanging off the back of cars can only be conducted with the correct local permissions and normally require roads to be temporarily shut down. Different councils take different amounts of time to organise this and costs vary. However, if you don't do this properly you won't be correctly insured and could face criminal charges. Don't risk it!

So what can you do if you don't have time to get permissions?

There are certain setups you can shoot from legally from the back of a car without permission. It's something you often see on Top Gear when filming on public roads. They use a vehicle which has a removable back window and place the tripod on a flat surface with a cameraman strapped in securely. We've done similar things in the past for the likes of Bentley for their GT Continental adverts.

Get a great drone operator

Drone photography may be the answer, depending on if you are in a built up area or out in the wilderness. A good drone operator and camera can add a huge amount of production value to a car shoot and is fast becoming essential when dealing with video content production budgets rather than big commercial shoots where locking down entire roads just isn't financially feasible.

Find a private estate

Alternatively you need to find a private estate to work on (like this piece of content for Mini). If you're working on a private piece of land you are free to do a lot more, providing the land owner has given you consent. You can find large areas of the countryside in Scotland and Wales are owned by someone who will happily let you rent the area for the day and drive around as you please. Somewhere like Longcross is fantastic for a car commercial. Obviously, if you're driving fast or performing any dangerous stunts then ensure that you have medical support as well as experienced and qualified drivers on set.

The right cameras

Above all else knowing the right camera setups are what will make or break your car shoot. Whilst slow motion shots, including super slowing motion 1000 frames per second shots, are absolutely incredible, they work best when there is some action that takes advantage of the slow down. Don't just point it at a car as it rides around a track, as it may ultimately end up looking like the car is just going slowly. Instead look for water, mud or smoke to try to bring that slow motion to life.

Internal, mounted cameras are also an integral part of many car shoots, especially when working with presenting talent. To achieve similar results as James Corden's Car Pool Karaoke or The Grand Tour you need to find a specialist company who know how to capture smooth, high quality, rigged cameras along with high quality audio. Our on board cameras for our Williams F1 video content are one of the most talked about shots we achieve each year.

Customised camera tracking vehicles are a fantastic way to enhance a car commercial. Whilst expensive, these teams can get the highest quality cameras moving at up to 80 miles per hour alongside whatever car you are filming. The end result can be tremendously exciting, and in the right editors hands can make your car commercial. Check out 'Camera Cars' with Iain May if you're looking for the best in the business.

We hope you get out there and produce some great content. If for any reason you want or need assistance then don't hesitate to drop us a quick email at hello@rdcontent.com